Maranello Motorsport - Australia's leading Ferrari specialists
Maranello Motorsport is an Australian racing team and company, founded in the late 1990s by Mark Coffey. The team is competing in the Australian GT Championship but is also providing sale and service operations for road cars and race cars, specializing in Ferraris and other European supercar marques. An original name of the team was Prancing Horse Racing.
Maranello Motorsport is mostly known as a Ferrari specialist. The name of the team also indicates its connection with the famous Italian sports car manufacturer. Mark Coffey’s team is based in Richmond, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne.
Two Bathurst 12 Hour wins as the greatest results
The greatest successes of the team were two recent wins at Bathurst 12 Hour race in 2014 and 2017. At 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour, drivers of the victorious #88 Ferrari 458 GT3 were John Bowe, Peter Edwards, Mika Salo and Craig Lowndes. In 2017, the crew members in the #88 Ferrari 488 GT3 were Toni Vilander, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.
One championship title on the team’s account
Maranello Motorsport’s drivers were regularly among the front-runners in the Australian GT Championship but the only one who won the title was the late Danish racer Allan Simonsen in 2007. That year, he was driving Ferrari 360 GT and Ferrari F430.
From track days to a big win at legendary race track
Besides preparing race cars and participating in racing competitions, the track days are the team’s specialty, when everybody can experience what it’s like to be a racing driver. Some of the track day graduates became professional racers, such as Peter Edwards, who wrote his name on the winners’ list of Bathurst 12 Hour.
Maranello Motorsport’s track days are held regularly at Australia’s greatest circuits such as Bathurst, Phillip Island, Sandown and Eastern Creek. One of the instructors is the racing legend John Bowe, a multiple Australian champion, two-time Bathurst 1000 winner and three-time Bathurst 12 Hour winner.
Prancing Horse Racing started its life in the Nations Cup
Mark Coffey formed a team in the late ’90s for the Australian Nations Cup Championship. In the absence of the Australian GT Championship, Nations Cup became the premier CAMS-sanctioned championship for GT cars.
In the 2000 Nations Cup, Jim Richards became the inaugural champion, Mark Noske finished in third place driving the #4 Ferrari 360 Challenge for the Prancing Horse Racing team. The second driver for Coffey’s team was Christian Jones, the adopted son of F1 champion Alan Jones, who finished in seventh place.
Ten drivers drove Ferraris in 2001 season
In the 2001 Nations Cup season, ten drivers participated in races with Prancing Horse Racing’s Ferraris. John Bowe and Craig Baird were among them, with Mark Noske being the best-placed Ferarri driver who finished in seventh place. In 2002, John Bowe spent a full season in the #888 Ferrari 360, finishing third in the championship. Along with Bowe, six more racers were driving Ferraris.
In 2002, the Prancing Horse Racing also participated in the Bathurst 24 Hour race. Brad Jones took the pole position with #888 Ferrari 360 N-GT but in the race, the team retired after 96 laps.
Allan Simonsen joined Coffey in 2003
At the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour, Mark Coffey fielded Lamborghini Diablo GTR, a car that finished in 8th place, driven by Paul Stokell, Allan Simonsen, Luke Youlden and Peter Hackett.
In the 2003 Nations Cup season, two drivers of Coffey’s Ferraris were James Koundouris and Allan Simonsen, who finished 5th and 8th in the championship.
Victory at inaugural Bahrain GT Festival
In 2004, the last Nations Cup season, Allan Simonsen was the team’s leading driver, who used the Ferrari 550 Millennio and finished seventh in the points.
In 2004, Mark Coffey Racing gained its first international success, winning the inaugural Bahrain GT Festival with a Ferrari 550GT. Drivers were David Brabham and Allan Simonsen.
Allan Simonsen was the 2007 Australian GT Champion
In 2005, the Australian GT Championship has been revived and Coffey’s team took part in it. The first success came in 2006 when Allan Simonsen won two races and finished 11th in the points. In 2007, Simonsen became the Australian GT champion, driving the Ferrari 360 GT and Ferrari F430.
13 wins in 2008 Australian GT season
In the 2008 Australian GT season, Maranello Motorsport fielded the #1 Ferrari F430 and won 5 rounds and 13 races. Allan Simonsen has won all eight races, but since he missed the rest of the season, he finished second in the final classification, behind Mark Eddy. John Bowe added five wins, finishing fifth in the points.
In the 2009 season, Allan Simonsen and Nick O’Halloran were sharing the #27 Ferrari F430 GT3 while Andrew Barlow was driving the #37 Ferrari 360 Challenge in the Challenge Division. Next year, Nick O’Halloran and Peter Edwards participated in several races.
Disappointing Bathurst 12 Hour debut in 2011
The season of 2011 was a milestone year because GT cars were allowed to participate at Bathurst 12 Hour for the first time. Unfortunately, Maranello Motorsport’s #17 Ferrari F430 GT3 didn’t reach the finish, retiring after 161 laps. Drivers were John Bowe, Peter Edwards and Tim Leahey. In the 2011 Australian GT Championship, Maranello Motorsport’s driver also didn’t gain any success.
Lap record at Mount Panorama in 2012
One more DNF at Bathurst 12 Hour followed in 2012. The #17 Ferrari 458 GT3 was running for 114 laps before retiring due to mechanical problems. During the race, Allan Simonsen established a new outright lap record for the Mount Panorama Circuit, the first time the record has been held by a GT car. His lap time was 2:06.3311.
In the 2012 Australian GT Championship, Peter Edwards/John Bowe finished third in the points, Nick O’Halloran/Allan Simonsen finished one place down.
2013 Bathurst 12 Hour – one more DNF despite a speed
At 2013 Bathurst 12 Hour, Allan Simonsen was the fastest driver again in the qualifying session. He set the fastest lap time of 2:05.49 in the Maranello Motorsport’s #88 Ferrari 458 GT3. However, since penalties are applied for lap times recorded under 2:06 minutes to provide a form of parity, the car lost the lap time and acquired a 50 kg penalty. In the race, the team retired after 111 laps.
Bathurst victory dedicated to Allan Simonsen
A tragedy struck motorsport world in June 213, when Allan Simonsen lost his life at 2013 Le Mans 24h race, driving for Aston Martin Racing. At 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour race, Maranello Motorsport the crew was determined to win the race, in a memory of their lost teammate. And they succeed.
The #88 Ferrari 458 GT3 crossed the finish line as the winner. Drivers were John Bowe, Peter Edwards, Mika Salo and Craig Lowndes. In honor to Allan Simonsen, the Pole Position Trophy at Bathurst 12 Hour is bearing his name since 2014.
Denyer was the championship runner-up in 2015
In 2015, Grant Denyer was the best-placed Maranello’s driver in the Australian GT Championship, finishing as the runner-up behind Christopher Mies. Denyer’s teammate Tony D’Alberto was in the seventh place.
At 2015 Bathurst 12 hour, the team didn’t start because of an accident during practice. The team returned to Bathurst a year later, recording one more DNF. The #88 car lasted for just 63 laps. Drivers were Denyer, D’Alberto, Salo and Vilander.
2017 – second win at Bathurst 12 Hour
In February 2017, the #88 Maranello Motorsport crew had a perfect race with Ferrari 488 GT3 at Mount Panorama Circuit, starting from pole and leading for 136 laps and scored team’s second victory at Bathurst 12 Hour. Drivers were Toni Vilander, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.